When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?
J.K. Rowling’s first attempt at adult fiction brought mixed reactions from our group. The small village, tedious gossip was too much for some of us and there was just not enough plot to keep the reader’s attention, and what was there, too predictable. The multitude of characters became hard to keep sorted and the many social issues seemed slightly numerous for such a little hamlet.
But on the other hand, there were those who found themselves immersed in this troubled community, connecting mostly with poor doomed Barry Fairbrother and the unfairly branded Krystal. These characters brought out our empathy and compassion, especially for Krystal whose personality was not flawed, just disrupted by her upbringing. In fact, there were a few personal situations that we found awfully sad, but undeniably believable in today’s society.
Although the first half of the book was considered somewhat dull, for those of us who continued on, we found rewards in the reading. Rowling shows talent for character study and her slightly complex web of community secrecy, trickery and scheming set the scene for a realistic but rewarding conclusion.
Although some of us thought Rowling should stick with Harry Potter, the general consensus came to 6-7 stars, provided you are willing to read through to the true belly of this tale. If you do, we guarantee a few laughs, maybe even a few tears, but certainly a satisfying read.